Three Reasons Your Home-Based Is Losing Customers

I remember it vividly: A loud knock on my door around 8:15 a.m., on a Tuesday morning. The aroma of French toast and bacon hung in the air like a fresh spray of Febreze. Thankfully, I was fully dressed. I swung the door open, surprised that my first client meeting of the day had arrived — at my home.

We were supposed to meet at a Starbucks coffee shop not far from house, and since the client was arriving from a city nearly two hours away, it made sense to accommodate him with a location more convenient than my office. I was content to meet him at Starbucks, but openly dismayed to realize he had arrived at my house. After a split second inventory of how this could have happened, I figured it out. A few weeks prior, I had completed a form with my home phone number and address instead of my office information. The rest was history.

Customers Have Expectations — Do you know how to meet them?

By trade, I’m an attorney. My clients expect me to have an office. They expect a dedicated phone number, and they expect a specific outcome when they hire me. I’m prepared for that. I can deliver what my clients expect because I understand what they expect.

When my client showed up at my house almost 13 years ago, I didn’t expect that. More importantly, neither did he. He was visibly concerned with the idea that I operated out of my home. It only took a minute to clarify that my office was in a high rise in the “city,” but the initial confusion was sufficient to nearly derail the entire meeting.

What do your customers or clients expect from you? If you’re a home-based business, does that fact matter to them? I believe that if you offer “authority” type services (i.e., coaching, counseling, teaching, mentoring, etc.), your customers expect you to be successful enough to have an office. They believe they are hiring you because you’re already where they want to be — in an office, not struggling at home. The problem with that perspective is that it’s not always true. Some of the most successful consultants in the country, for example, operate from their home, where they generate millions of dollars. You’re fighting an uphill battle when you’re trying to convince your customers that you can afford an office, but choose not to rent one.

This is a fundamental element of your business — you operate at home. If your customers expect a home-based business, that’s great. If they do not, you need to address the rift. There are countless ways to do that, but it will require some effort on your part. Many office parks have “presentation” packages (i.e., mailbox, professional voicemail, etc.), so that’s an excellent place to start. There are also many alternatives to operating from your home that won’t break the bank — services like WeWork have cleared a pathway for entrepreneurs not wanting a full-blown office. Cafes like Starbucks and Corner Bakery are also well-known work sites amongst entrepreneurs.

Dogs Bark and Babies Cry

I host a weekly podcast, The CogniPop Podcast. After recording episodes anywhere possible — at my office, my conference room, my home office, the local park, and even in my car, I found that superb sound could be collected when I record in my bedroom closet. There’s just one problem — noise. It might be my kids playing in the next room, or it might be the dog barking next door, but if there’s noise, I can’t record.

The existence of noise, however, creates another problem. If I schedule to record during a certain window of time and I can’t record because of noise, I’m forced to reschedule. When that happens, it creates a new problem — delivery. I can’t deliver on time if my schedule is changed because of dogs barking and babies crying. And that reality is a significant hurdle for home-based businesses.

Your business operates in an environment that wasn’t designed to support a business. There are people running in and out of rooms, TVs blasting, kids screaming, dogs barking, and doorbells ringing. All of that impedes your focus, but equally important, it sends a message to your customer. The message it sends will depend on your customer’s expectations, but it’s human nature to draw conclusions, and when your customer hears a dog barking, they form an opinion on your value to them. Often, you lose them to that opinion.

If you don’t want to lose customers to dogs barking and babies crying, make a plan to mitigate that issue. Maybe you conduct certain activities only at certain times of day. Maybe you limit the types of activities you do from home. Maybe you invest in acoustic foam and locks to reduce noise and intrusions into your workspace. The starting point is being realistic about the issue.

We Edge Towards The Current

I was a competitive swimmer in high school. I also had family living near the Colorado River. When visiting my family by the river, I took every opportunity to train in the river, swimming upstream, against the current. But that’s unnatural, because we all tend to go with the flow.

In a home-based business, that can mean sleeping in late, adjusting your work schedule around your family schedule, doing home chores when you should be conducting business, and sitting with your laptop in front of the TV for hours on end.

Let me cut to the chase: You are not giving your best effort when you let your work life and home life merge. Your business suffers and your customers see it. If you want to shine with your customers, give them your best. Do that by fighting the current and doing the hard work. Business is business, and home is home.

Now get out there and keep those customers coming back for more!

Need help with your home-based business? Reach out.

© 2015 Brock Shinen. All rights reserved.